Health experts and age-old advice have us believing the 8×8 rule (8 8-ounce glasses of water every day) is the secret sauce to solving many of our problems, from weight loss to anti-aging and even boosting our daily energy. But how much of it is true, and what does increasing our water intake really mean for our health and wellbeing? Staying hydrated isn’t a cure-all for every body-related issue, but there are actually a few surprising things that added hydration helps with.
It’s no surprise that even slight dehydration changes the way we think and physically feel – and chances are, you’re not drinking enough water. We typically don’t realize how dehydrated we are until afternoon fatigue, headaches or a major skin change kicks in. Our bodies regularly lose water throughout the day, but if the water isn’t replaced, we become dehydrated. Being dehydrated puts a major strain on critical organs like the brain and heart, depletes energy, decreases cognitive function and increases irritability. These factors are usually mistaken as hunger signals, so those who are dehydrated tend to reach for food instead of water.
So what are the signs of dehydration? Symptoms differ depending on whether you’re experiencing mild to moderate or severe dehydration, and they can even show up before total dehydration takes place. Here are a few symptoms to look out for:
-Dry mouth and skin
-Lightheadedness and/or dizziness
-Low blood pressure
-Rapid heart rate and breathing
Staying properly hydrated is like giving more fuel to your organs, which increases your energy levels and promotes a regular flushing of toxins and inflammation from the body. The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine recommends that we drink 2.7 liters of water a day (3.7 liters for men) – but I like to increase the target. Our bodies can lose up to 3 to 4 liters a day just from daily activities like perspiration, urinating, bowel movements and exhaling air. So by aiming higher than 2.7 liters, you’ll get closer to reaching the recommended amount. Health experts also recommend drinking half of your body weight in ounces. For example, if you’re 130 pounds, you should drink 65 ounces a day. (*this is dependent on your level of activity and water loss in a day!). But basically, you’ll now you had a good water intake day if you fill up and finish a 1-liter water bottle 3 times a day.
Here’s the truth behind the water bottle:
–Your metabolic rate will spike. Lipase is an enzyme that must be activated in our bodies in order to get rid of fat and water is one of the main components in the activation process. If you drink 16 ounces of water in an hour, your metabolic rate will increase by as much as 30% for the next 30 to 40 minutes!
–Your workouts will improve on a cellular level. Water is the key to healthy, well-functioning cells, and it helps your body maintain and regulate its energy stores. Proper hydration helps you maximize your workouts – but downing your entire water bottle immediately before you exercise can not only cramp you up but also make you feel more slugglish and less focused. Drink a glass of water 20 to 30 minutes before your workout and take little sips as needed.
–You’ll stop retaining excess fluid around your eyes. Eating high-sodium foods (particularly at night) and not drinking enough water can cause you to retain excess fluid around the eyes and experience under-eye puffiness. Staying hydrated will not only help de-puff the under-eye area but it’s also necessary when it comes to maintaining your skin’s hydration levels.
–You’ll cut unnecessary calories from your diet. Drinking half your weight (in ounces) in water will replace sugary drinks. You also naturally increase your water intake by eating clean, unprocessed whole fruits and vegetables. This means you’re cutting processed foods that usually have high sodium content from your body. Salt stimulates the appetite but also makes you retain water, which causes you to eat and bloat more. Without the salt, the water will help with intestinal motility and urination (2 ways your body releases toxins!).
If drinking a sufficient amount of water throughout the day isn’t already a habit, using and setting as many triggers for this new behavior will help establish this new habit. You can set up alarms on your phone to remind you to drink a glass of water, or if need a constant visual reminder, keep a water cup or a water bottle next to you at home or at work. If you find water “boring,” I like to freshen up the taste by adding in a few berries or sliced lemons, cucumber or mint!
How do you feel about your daily water intake? I’d love to hear your best tips on staying hydrated!